Release Date: December 4, 2015
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler, Mark Atkin, Trevor Bau, Gideon Emery, Maverick Flack, Sophie Gannon, Ivy George, Felicity Hamill, Luke Hawker, Tess Jamieson-Karaha, Lolo Owen, Gareth Ruck, Queenie Samuel
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 98 minutes
Production Company: Legendary Pictures, Universal Pictures
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Budget: $15,000,000 (estimated)
I can learn to appreciate a popular fictional character flipped upside down for grins. That’s what I thought the premise of Krampus entailed. Not knowing much about the source material, I wanted to go into this experience with an open mind hoping to be surprised. The concept isn’t completely ridiculous, for the fact that we live in a world where an Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter film was greenlit into production. In some cultures the real meaning of Christmas has been destroyed, and its only reason for being is to cater to bratty children, or the need to consume countless products. So the idea of a shadowy figure to rid of this mindset from the roots of Ole’ Saint Nick isn’t too farfetched. Though it all comes down to execution, which Krampus missed by a mile.
What turned me off from the start of the film was the main character Max (Emjay Anthony). He is far too old to still be believing in Santa Claus. He’s a good kid, but given his age, seeing him making hopeful Christmas lists while writing notes to Santa was a hard pill to swallow for a real world setting. His family seemed decent at first, but I began to get annoyed by their lack of confidence, and inability to stand up for themselves. The grandmother Omi (Krista Stadler) in the family was just as bad as Max. It was obvious she had a dark secret she was holding in, even before things started to go south. If there was a mystery in the works, she didn’t do a good job at keeping it hidden. The distant family members that came into town didn’t bring a warm welcome either. They’re just a gang of bullies that get off by imposing on others, while making crude jokes to uplift their spirits. The only positive character out of their bunch was Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell). The film is labeled as a comedy, horror, fantasy, and she was the only one able to deliver anything worthy of a laugh. Her honesty did make me smile from time to time.
From my understanding, the reason the Christmas goat goblin Krampus exists, is to punish those that don’t know the true meaning of Christmas, or do but ignore it for their own selfish gain. The reason why the story fails on every level is Max does believe in Christmas, but is the main one getting punished. It doesn’t add up to a logical sense. He’s a good boy, very respectful, honors both his parents, only asked that his family put their differences aside, and love each other for a few nights out of the year. Since that was the case, Krampus should be no-where near their neighborhood, but he shows up like the family is planning global domination. In addition to that, as Krampus and his gang of goons are taking turns picking the family off, Omi knew what was going on well before things started to go awry, but decided not to inform her family of the inevitable doom for unexplained reasons. If I know my family may die soon or be captured, I’m going to inform them plain and simple.
If you’re looking for something to scare you, or effects that magnify your senses, you won’t find that here. The demonic ginger bread men with silly faces only came across as a nuisance, instead of a dangerous threat. There were other creatures that came to life, but the family was too busy looking dense than coming together to defeat them. It would’ve been far too easy, but that was ignored due to the quality in the writing. What’s even more frustrating is when the family decides to whip out their guns and ammunition, they don’t take advantage when the enemy is dead center. Instead of firing for the kill shot, over exaggerated screaming is the only action that takes place.
Towards the end of the film more goons do show up to pose a worthy threat, but at that point it’s far too late to provide anything entertaining. I was already exhausted from nothing interesting happening, and ashamed I wasted an hour and forty five minutes of my time. It’s fascinating how no one wanted to shoot their guns when the enemy was close enough that a blind man could see. Though when the enemy is in the distance, behind the walls, or shifting through the grounds, that’s when they decided to empty the clip. This was a miserable attempt at a story of Christmas that had potential to be worthwhile. Instead the experience in the theater was the nightmare, instead of the story being told on screen.